Take Two Evenings for October 15, 2013

40th anniversary: A look at how the 1973 oil embargo changed the way we feel about energy

Petrol Queue

Evening Standard/Getty Images

5th December 1973: Cars queuing for fuel during the petrol crisis of 1973.

Let's take a little trip back, 40 years back, to the fall of 1973.

The Rolling Stones held the number one spot on the Billboard charts, Archie Bunker was the king of television, and vice-president Spiro Agnew resigned amid charges of widespread political corruption.

Most Americans who were around back then will remember those things. They'll likely also remember long line at the gas station and the importance of odd and even days. 40 years ago, if your license plate ended in an even number, you could only fill your tank on even numbered days. 

The country was struggling with the effects of an oil embargo imposed by Arab members of OPEC, and designed to punish America for supporting Israel in the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria. The embargo lasted just five months, but it forever changed our feeling about petroleum, and energy in general.

Michael Ross, a UCLA political scientist who focuses on the intersection of oil and politics, joins us to talk more about this. 


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